Kickstarter: Helios, An iPhone Telepresence Rig On A Budget

Another day, another iOS-based telepresence rig. The Helios is a tiny little two-wheeled car that drives around with your iPhone or Touch in the passenger seat, allowing you to move around a scene and interact with remote subjects through the magic of telepresence.

They are raising money through Kickstarter.

Telepresence is a hard nut to crack. People just aren’t that comfortable having a robotic intermediary. But as this generation grows up with video calling and home robotics, I suspect it will be much easier to — as the above image suggests — roll out into the park with your SO.

From the creator, Tian Long Wang:

We are currently on the third iteration of Helios. The first model was developed during the Spring 2012 hackathon at Princeton University. This version was built on a trackpad platform by Robotshop and took first place int he hardware category of the hackathon. After some problems with the tracked moving parts, the second version of of Helios was built on the Boebot platform. As our development of the hardware continued, we created the third and current version with the help of SeeedStudio, one of the largest electronics manufacturers in China. The current version employs personal electronic circuits in addition to a completely new body design, manufactured through CNC and 3D plastic printing. For larger volumes, we will use injection molding for all plastic part, which also allows for a glossier look. As outlined, the pricing tiers represent actual manufacturing quotes from SeeedStudio.

The robot will cost $120 when it ships, but early buyers can get it for $99. The project is at $3,000 of a $50,000 pledge request so this might end up in the dustbin of telepresence robot history, but perhaps someone out there will buy 5,000 of them and send entire robot drone armies through the streets of major American cities. A guy can dream…

Project Page